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Expectations high for Eagles

Expectations remain the same for Boulder City High School boys basketball team, even as its starts the season with a new roster.

A year removed from their first 3A Sunrise League championship since 2012, the Eagles have the chance to be special once again in head coach John Balistere’s eyes.

“We have a new group this year and the chance to be really good,” he said. “We have our three returning starters, who we’re going to rely on heavily, and then what I feel is a really good group of incoming players. Once we start to gel and play more together, I think we can be really special. We’re looking forward to defending our league championship.”

Leading the way for this year’s squad will be the junior dynamic duo of Matt Morton and Ethan Speaker, along with key senior defender Gavin Balistere.

Returning after being key offensive threats the past two seasons, Speaker averaged 13 points per game last season, while Morton averaged just under 10 points.

“We’re expecting big things from both of them this year,” John Balistere said. “Not many juniors can say they’ve started 50 games like both of them have. They’ve been big for us in the past and they should get even more opportunities this year. Both are very skilled offensively.”

Complete players in all facets of the game, Speaker added 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal and Morton added 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals.

Adding defensive pressure along with an added offensive punch, Gavin Balistere returns as the team’s top defender, forcing just under a steal per game last season, while being tasked with pestering the opposing team’s top offensive threat.

“Gavin is very active for us on the defensive end,” John Balistere said. “He knows when to turn it on and get into his opponent’s head and when to scale it back. He definitely brings a lot of energy to that side of the ball and is very disruptive. He did a great job for us last year and we’re looking to get him even more involved this year, especially on the offensive end.”

Seniors Jacob Sanford (2 rebounds, 1.6 points) and Mason Hood (1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds) will add much-need depth, while juniors Joey Giunta and Matt Felsenfeld should get more opportunities at minutes this year after brief varsity stints last season.

Incoming sophomore Gavin Douglas, who at 6-foot-5 give the Eagles another athletic big to take over games, figures to be a key added piece to this year’s team.

“Gavin has been a nice addition to our group since relocating from Reno,” John Balistere said. “He’s a skilled player who plays really hard. He’s a long kid, athletic. He’s going to be a player that we’re going to rely on for points and rebounds. Him, Jacob, Joey — they’re all players who we’re going to need to step up for us this year and give us great minutes.”

The Eagles are primed for a postseason berth and are one of the favorites in the 3A classification. Looking to build on last season’s season success, a trip to the state tournament is motivating this year’s group.

“I believe this team will be able to make a deep playoff run,” Morton said. “Losing to Mojave early in the playoffs two years in a row definitely ignites a flame in our chest and motivates us. As a team we always expect to do better than the year before. A huge mindset of ours is to never look back or regret any decisions and to get better every day, which I believe we do.”

Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.

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